New Zealand brush aside England in less than 46 overs
Fastest World Cup fifty by Brendon McCullum
By Naman Trivedi
Ahmedabad / Wellington: Historically, New Zealand has been pretty accustomed to its role as underdog at international cricket tournaments. But after the Black Caps’ dominant performances against Sri Lanka, Scotland and most recently, England, there’s no place to hide. Judging by the positive and attacking way Brendon McCullum’s boys decimated England at Wellington on Friday, a move to tournament favouritism might be one they are comfortable with.
The World Cup is just three matches old for New Zealand but already the partnership of Trent Boult and Tim Southee has signalled itself as a serious rival to South Africa and Australia when it comes to the title of best opening attack in ODI cricket. While it took 12 overs at Hagley Oval against Sri Lanka for New Zealand to make a breakthrough – which came thanks to the spin of Daniel Vettori – the Black Caps’ seamers have been the story of the second and third matches.
When Boult tore through Scotland, leaving the Associate team shell-shocked at 4-12, the talk started about just how damaging New Zealand’s attack could be during the tournament. But given Scotland’s lower-ranked status, it was almost possible to underrate the quicks’ fiery performance at Dunedin. There was no questioning their bowling at Wellington. New Zealand – and in particular Southee – was sent in to bat on a pitch that looked set for runs.
Southee bowled with control, was the only bowler to find any real swing and his seven wickets were well deserved. His 7-33 was not only his best ODI performance, it was New Zealand’s best. The Black Caps skipper is at the peak of his powers and his leadership is playing a huge role in New Zealand’s success. Not only is he leading the way with the bat – his World Cup record fifty just the latest highlight in his purple patch of form – his decision making in the field is positive and clever. A ruthless captain, McCullum attacked relentlessly against Sri Lanka, Scotland and England. Against England, he started with three slips, finished with four and his bowling changes were inspired, particularly when bringing Southee and Boult back to clean up the England tail.
Plenty has already been said about McCullum’s record breaking innings and plenty more will be said. It is worth noting that the record he broke for fastest World Cup fifty was actually his own record, set against Canada in 2007. Thanks to New Zealand’s bowling, their batsmen were not left with much of a job to do on Friday and McCullum more than took care of it. But had McCullum failed, there would have been no end of in-form Black Caps stepping up. Kane Williamson’s form over the last 12 months has been outstanding. Since January 2014 he has scored 10 fifties and three centuries in ODIs.
Corey Anderson until recently held the world record for fastest 100 ton and already has two fifties in 2015, while Luke Ronchi smashed an unbeaten 170 from 99 balls last month. Likewise, Grant Elliot has averaged 57.33 since being recalled to the one-day team in January after more than a year’s absence, Martin Guptill,has two fifties for 2015 already and Ross Taylor is averaging 45.13 for the year.
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